“In the same way, let your light shine before others, that they may see your good deeds and glorify your Father in heaven.”
– Matthew 5:16 (NIV)
John Maxwell writes that “leadership is influence; nothing more, nothing less.”
Think about some of the greatest leaders of the past 100 years: Winston Churchill rallying a nation in the face of Nazi aggression in World War II; Martin Luther King, Jr., empowering a generation to work against social oppression; Steve Jobs inspiring millions with technological innovation.
These political, social and economic movements were sustained because of one leader’s ability to influence others. Leadership boils down to influence.
We might not all be formal leaders with a title, but we all have influence. Every interaction we have with another person is an opportunity to build or tear down a platform of influence; the key is to be intentional with our impact.
Here is why influence matters to our faith at work:
- We can influence people toward God.
Part of our charge as followers of Jesus is to move people closer to God (Matthew 28:18-20, 2 Corinthians 5:17-21). Whether in overt or subtle ways, we are to be “salt and light” in the workplace, always prepared to explain our hope in Jesus (Matthew 5:13-16, Colossians 4:5-6).
- We can use our influence to serve others.
Using our influence to help, train or advocate for others is a practical way to love our neighbors at and through our work (Nehemiah 2:3-6, Esther 4:14).
- We can influence the quality of our product, service or company.
Whether it is the culture of a team or company, corporate positions on issues, or product quality, we should think of how we can influence our work environment to better reflect a Kingdom environment (1 Thessalonians 4:1).
But, how do you truly influence at work?
- Be good at what you do.
Competence, excellence and integrity in your work is foundational to building influence.
- Be intentional with relationships.
Show people you care, and listen and act with humility. Understand the different levels of influence you have with people in your organization, including your managers, employees, vendors and customers. Identify a few people with whom you can be strategic with your influence.
- Look for opportunities to advocate for others.
Your influence will greatly expand when you are authentically looking out for the interests of others. In any environment there will be people, teams or units that are unfairly overlooked or overshadowed. Use your influence to make the environment more equitable.
- Be poised in the face of crisis.
People will follow leaders who are confident and steady in tough situations. Stay centered on your values in crisis and people will follow you.
As a follower of Christ, you have influence regardless of your position in an organization. And your influence can make a difference!